Reinventing The Map


Written by Betty Wood
Photos and illustrations by Elisabeth Lecourt, Susan Stockwell, Casper James, Artichoke, Dynomighty, Sarah Walker
29 Monday 29th August 2011

For the last ten years, London based artist Susan Stockwell has been creating her own brand of amazing dresses out of old maps, money and rice paper. Last year she created this scale-size Highland dress out of a series of ordinance survey maps of the Scottish Highlands. Concerned with issues of ecology, geo-politics and the 'throwaway' nature of modern society, her dresses seek to draw attention to changing tastes, modes of life and the aesthetic usability of redundant objects with her intricate designs.

Artist Elisabeth Lecourt has put her origami skills to good use in her series entitled Mapquest, creating this series of children's clothing in traditional early 20th century style using folded and cut-up maps. Although not designed to be worn so much as hung, the garments are made to scale and feature ordinances taken of London and the UK where Lecourt is now based.

But clothes aren't necessarily the best way to upcycle your old map collection. If you're interested in slightly more functional cartographic designs, then how about these upcycled vintage designs by Brighton-based Casper James? Casper has the largest stall at Brighton's famous North Laine Antiques and Flea market where he sells his restored and upcycled vintage furniture, like the designs above. Stripping, sanding, painting and pasting, his cartographic inspired refurbs use vintage maps to add detail and colour. We think it looks pretty good!

Upcycling ranks high for those concerned with minimising their carbon footprint, and wallet designers DynoMighty have capitalised on this point with their cartographic Mighty Wallet designs. Featuring maps of NYC and London underground rail networks as well as pages taken from Atlases of the Gulf of Alaska, these wallets are made from recycled Tyvek envelopes. Their interwoven plastic fibres are waterproof, tear proof, incredibly thin and durable. What's even better is that once your upcycled wallet has bitten the dust, in turn it can be re-cycled into something else. Green and nifty, we love these wallets.

Designer Sarah Walker uses her maps to make these bespoke, handmade lampshades. Made from reclaimed vintage maps, she specialises in a half-shade and back-less shade for wall fittings or corner tables and uses original sourced maps and ordinance surveys to make one-off pieces. Or if you prefer your lightshades to be slightly more pendant-like, how about this road-map design by Artichoke? Circular discs have been cut from vintage US road maps from across the 52 states before being applied to a round paper lantern to create this quirky design. Each design differs slightly due to their bespoke nature, and this shade would look great in any living room.

Love maps? Let us know your thoughts.

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